INTERPRETING CHAPTER 3 OF THE ACT (Extract from Guide to the interpretation and implementation of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998)
Interpreting Chapter 3: Fire danger rating
Fire danger rating
131. The Act requires the following elements in the National Fire Danger Rating System (Section 9):
a) the formula or formulae to take account of the factors affecting fire danger and calculate the forecast indicators of fire danger on which ratings will be based (the fire danger index model)
132. Section 10 requires the Minister to communicate the forecast ratings to FPAs in each defined region regularly. This means often enough to be useful, that is, at least daily. When the forecast or actual fire danger is rated high in a given region, the Act requires the Minister to publish a warning of high fire danger in all the main languages of the region on three TV channels and three radio channels that broadcast to the region, as well as two regional newspapers, and ensure that recordings are kept of broadcasts and notices. This last requirement is in case of evidence being needed in court. (The number of media channels to be used is currently seen as too many and the section will be amended to make it more practical).
b) the fire danger rating, in a clear format
c) identification of dangerous activities and precautions relevant to each rating
d) identify when the fire danger is rated high in any region
e) division of the country into regions of relatively uniform fire danger
f) communication of fire danger rating.
133. The Act provides for this warning to act as a prohibition on the lighting of fires in the open air in the region specified, until the period of high fire danger passes - a so-called total fire ban.
134. Section 10(3) specifies what must be said in the warning, that is, it must say that the danger is high, refer to the prohibition, and indicate how long the prohibition will be in force. Mostly, the prohibition will need to remain in force until the danger is no longer rated high.
Delegation of powers and duties
135. Section 11 allows the Minister to delegate his or her powers and duties with respect to the fire danger rating system, to the Weather Bureau or its successor or to another competent party, and to pay for those services if necessary.